The Little Flowers of Saint Francis (after 1337) - 583 

Chapter 10
HOW BROTHER MASSEO, AS IF JOKING, TOLD SAINT FRANCIS THAT THE WHOLE WORLD WAS FOLLOWING AFTER HIM; AND HE REPLIED: THAT WAS FOR THE WORLD'S CONFUSION AND BY THE GRACE OF GOD BECAUSE I AM THE MOST VILE MAN IN THE WORLD

Once Saint Francis was staying in the place of the Portiuncula with Brother Masseo of Marignano, a man of great holiness, discernment and grace in speaking of God, for which Saint Francis loved him very much. One day Saint Francis was returning from the woods and from prayer, and when he was at the edge of the woods, that same Brother Masseo, wanting to test how humble he was, went up to him and, as if joking, said, "Why after you, why after you, why after you?" Saint Francis responded, "What do you mean? Brother Masseo said, "I'm saying why does the whole world Jn 12:19 come after you, and everyone seems to desire to see you and hear you? You aren't a handsome man in body, you aren't someone of great learning, you're not noble; so why does the whole world come after you?" Hearing this, Saint Francis was overjoyed in spirit and, turning his face to heaven, stood for a long time with his mind lifted up into God. Then returning to himself, he knelt down and gave praise and thanks to God. Then with great fervor of spirit he turned to Brother Masseo and said, "Do you want to know why after me? You want to know why after me? You want to know why the whole world comes after me? I have this from those eyes of the Most High God, which gaze in every place on the good and the guilty. Since those most holy eyes have not seen among sinners anyone more vile, nor more incompetent, nor a greater sinner than me; to perform that marvelous work, which he intends to do, He has not found a more vile creature on the earth, and therefore He has chosen me to confound the nobility and the greatness and the strength and beauty and wisdom of the world, so that it may be known that every virtue and every good is from Him, and not from the creature, and no person may boast in His sight. But whoever boasts must boast in the Lord, to whom is every honor and glory forever." Brother Masseo was shocked at such a humble response, said with such fervor, and knew certainly that Saint Francis was truly grounded in humility.

To the praise of Christ
and the little poor man Francis.
Amen.

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Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 583

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